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Employer Satisfaction Survey

The ESS is the only national survey that measures how well graduates from Australian higher education institutions meet employer needs. It uses a unique methodology to link the experiences of graduates to the views of their direct supervisors. Data from the ESS are used to better understand the specific skills and attributes needed in business today, how well higher education is preparing graduates for the workforce and the varied employment pathways graduates are taking after completing their study.

   Target population
Over 3,400 supervisors of employed graduates
    Sample size
Employers of graduates of Australian higher education institutions
   Survey cycle
Conducted annually

2020 ESS Results

In 2020 the supervisor response rate was 45.5 per cent with over 3,400 supervisor responses. The 2020 ESS results are large enough to provide robust comparisons by broad field of education, course characteristics, employment characteristics, occupation and demographic group. There are sufficient results from the 2018, 2019 and 2020 ESS combined to provide comparisons across universities. With the overall satisfaction of graduates rated by direct supervisors at 84.7 per cent, the results of the 2020 ESS affirm the value of higher education qualifications for employment. Below is a summary of the survey outcomes. The 90 per cent confidence intervals are presented to aid in interpretation of the data. Please refer to the 2020 ESS National Report for detailed ESS results. 

Employer satisfaction with graduate attributes and overall satisfaction (%, with 90 per cent confidence intervals)

ESS figure of employer satisfaction with graduate attributes and overall satisfaction 2020 - Graduate attributes, Foundation skills (93.7%), Adaptive skills (90.1%), Collaborative skills (86.1%), Technical skills (93.8%), Employability (86.8%),  Overall satisfaction (84.7%).

In 2020, employers reported highest overall satisfaction with Engineering and Related Technologies graduates at 90 per cent. Supervisors also reported above average satisfaction with Agriculture and Environmental Studies graduates, 88 per cent, Education graduates, 88 per cent, Information Technology graduates, 87 per cent, and Health graduates 86 per cent. On the other hand employer satisfaction, while still high, appears lower for Creative Arts graduates at 78 per cent, Society and Culture, Management and Commerce, and Architecture and Building graduates, all 83 per cent, and Natural and Physical Sciences graduates, 84 per cent.

Employer overall satisfaction by broad field of education, 2020 (%, with 90 per cent confidence intervals)

ESS figure employer overall satisfaction by broad field of education 2020

Employer satisfaction with graduate attributes and overall satisfaction, by broad field of education, 2020 (%, with 90 per cent confidence intervals)

FoundationAdaptiveCollaborativeTechnicalEmployabilityOverall satisfaction

Natural and Physical Sciences

91.4 (88.1, 93.9)

88.9 (85.2, 91.8)

88.5 (84.8, 91.4)

93.7 (90.6, 95.8)

86.1 (82.1, 89.3)

84.3 (80.3, 87.7)

Information Technology

95.2 (91.6, 97.4)

90.2 (85.6, 93.4)

89.8 (85.3, 93.1)

95.7 (92.1, 97.7)

84.0 (78.6, 88.2)

87.2 (82.4, 90.9)

Engineering and Related Technologies

95.1 (92.3, 96.9)

87.9 (84.2, 90.9)

90.5 (87.1, 93.1)

92.9 (89.8, 95.2)

87.4 (83.6, 90.5)

90.5 (87.1, 93.1)

Architecture and Building

92.0 (85.6, 95.7)

87.1 (79.8, 92.0)

90.8 (84.3, 94.9)

94.1 (88.2, 97.3)

87.1 (79.8, 92.0)

82.8 (75.1, 88.5)

Agriculture and Environmental Studies

98.3 (92.3, 100.0)

95.0 (87.8, 98.3)

91.8 (83.9, 96.2)

98.3 (92.3, 100.0)

85.0 (75.8, 91.2)

88.3 (79.6, 93.7)

Health

94.6 (93.0, 95.9)

90.3 (88.2, 92.1)

89.2 (87.0, 91.1)

94.6 (92.8, 95.9)

85.3 (82.8, 87.5)

86.5 (84.1, 88.6)

Education

93.4 (91.2, 95.1)

91.6 (89.2, 93.5)

86.1 (83.2, 88.5)

94.5 (92.4, 96.0)

86.0 (83.0, 88.5)

87.6 (84.8, 89.9)

Management and Commerce

94.6 (92.8, 95.9)

90.1 (87.8, 91.9)

86.7 (84.2, 88.8)

92.9 (91.0, 94.5)

89.7 (87.4, 91.6)

82.7 (79.9, 85.1)

Society and Culture

92.8 (91.1, 94.3)

90.8 (88.9, 92.4)

88.0 (85.8, 89.8)

93.3 (91.6, 94.7)

87.9 (85.7, 89.7)

82.6 (80.2, 84.8)

Creative Arts

92.6 (87.9, 95.6)

89.4 (84.1, 93.1)

88.2 (82.9, 92.1)

95.5 (91.4, 97.8)

88.3 (82.7, 92.2)

77.6 (71.2, 83.0)

Total

93.7 (93.0, 94.4)

90.1 (89.2, 91.0)

88.1 (87.1, 89.0)

93.8 (93.1, 94.5)

86.8 (85.8, 87.8)

84.7 (83.6, 85.7)

Employer satisfaction is consistently high across Australia’s Table A and B universities, with overall satisfaction ranging from 93 per cent to 78 per cent across universities, when results are combined from the 2018, 2019 and 2020 surveys. Employers rate graduates from Bond University highest at 93 per cent, followed by University of Divinity, 92 per cent, and Australian Catholic University and the University of Wollongong, both 90 per cent.

Note caution is warranted in interpreting differences in employer satisfaction across universities due to the relatively small number of survey responses at some universities.

Results for individual non-university higher education institutions (NUHEIs) are not published as the number of employer responses remains too small.


Employer overall satisfaction by institution, 2018 to 2020 (%)

ESS figure of employer overall satisfaction by institution, 2018 to 2020

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About the ESS

The ESS provides information about the quality of education provided at Australian institutions, by asking supervisors to provide feedback about the generic skills, technical skills and work readiness of the graduate employed in their workplace. It is the first national survey that links the experiences of graduates to the views of their direct supervisors. The ESS is undertaken on a systematic basis by asking employed graduates who participated in the GOS to provide the contact details of their supervisor for follow up. The ESS has been conducted annually since 2016

While there are an insufficient number of responses to publish institution by study area results on the ComparED website, the ESS is large enough to provide comparisons by broad field of education, course characteristics, employment characteristics, occupation and demographic group.

Results are pooled across the three most recent collection years to enable comparisons across universities. This follows the approach for other surveys on the ComparED website where results are pooled across years to improve the robustness and validity of data. The QILT reports and ComparED website do not publish results where there are fewer than 25 survey responses. For this reason, results for individual non-university higher education institutions (NUHEIs) are not shown as the number of employer responses is generally too small.

The QILT website reports the proportion of employers satisfied with six indicators:

  1. Overall satisfaction
  2. Foundation skills - general literacy, numeracy and communication skills and the ability to investigate and integrate knowledge
  3. Adaptive skills - the ability to adapt and apply skills/knowledge and work independently
  4. Collaborative skills - teamwork and interpersonal skills
  5. Technical skills - application of professional and technical knowledge and standards
  6. Employability skills - the ability to perform and innovate in the workplace
The questions which comprise each indicator are detailed below. 90 per cent confidence intervals are displayed to provide a measure of accuracy of the estimates. For technical details about the calculations used to score data derived from the ESS, please see the document, ESS Methodology for QILT Website.

Overall satisfaction

The percentage of supervisors who expressed overall satisfaction with their graduate.

Foundation skills

The percentage of supervisors who expressed satisfaction with graduates’ foundation skills.

Adaptive skills

The percentage of supervisors who expressed satisfaction with graduates’ adaptive skills.

Collaborative skills

The percentage of supervisors who expressed satisfaction with graduates’ collaborative skills.

Technical skills

The percentage of supervisors who expressed satisfaction with graduates’ technical skills.

Employability skills

The percentage of supervisors who expressed satisfaction with graduates’ employability skills.

Further notes

Care should be taken when interpreting results from the ESS presented on this website. The results are estimates only, because they are based on a survey which was not completed by all supervisors. The accuracy of the figures varies depending on the number of supervisors who completed the survey. Confidence intervals are displayed to provide a measure of the accuracy of the estimates. Results from the ESS by institution by study area are not currently presented on this website.

For technical details about the calculations used to score data derived from the ESS, please see the document, ESS Methodology for QILT Website.